Let’s admit it: We were unfair to women



EVERY time I hear a senior official stressing the importance of women and the competence and high qualifications they have, I cannot help but wonder. I do not understand whether those officials did not recognize the power of women or whether they were surprised at their capabilities.

Perhaps those officials felt guilty about underestimating Saudi women and now they want to make it up; therefore, they make statements every now and then about the rights of Saudi women and the important roles they play in society.

We should all, including senior officials and parents, admit that we marginalized women in society for decades.

On the very few occasions when women were granted some rights, other rights were taken away from them. Even when we acknowledged the fact that women were capable of many things, we expressed doubts about their capabilities in certain fields.

From a religious perspective, fatwas were issued depriving women of their basic rights for fear that men would commit sins if such rights were allowed. It had always been men. Women were prohibited from doing permissible things for fear that such things lead men to commit sins.

These fatwas were based on sheer illogic. At some point, we forgot the fact that women are our mothers, sisters and wives and we should not have doubted their abilities.

We marginalized women because of old social customs and traditions that made our society lag behind in terms of development and progress. Some women were deprived of their right to inheritance and marriage as part of this gender discrimination.

We must not be surprised about the exceptional capabilities of Saudi women. We must admit that we did not do them justice in the past and that we underestimated their capabilities.